A team of volunteers has cut tonnes of firewood to help keep Hawke’s Bay whānau warm this winter.
The group came together under Tihei Mauri Ora Emergency Response Centre. It was set up in response to COVID-19 by Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc and Hawke’s Bay District Health Board to support Whānau Pounamu – the most vulnerable Māori and Pasifika in the region.
Tihei Mauri Ora co-ordinator and DHB head of inter-sector and special projects Henry Heke said the team worked with community co-ordinators to source and distribute kai and care packages to Whānau Pounamu during Level 4.
A request from kaumātua in rural Wairoa sparked the call for volunteers to help secure and process dry firewood for vulnerable and struggling families. “From this kāranga we set about to process firewood so we could help more whānau keep warm this winter.”
Wood was donated through the Post-Treaty Settlement Group agreement with wood providers Pan Pac Forest Products Limited, Rayoier Matariki Forests and Gwavas/Kaweka Forest.
“We’ve processed approximately 100 tonnes of wood and it’s all thanks to people volunteering their time,” Mr Heke said.
“Wood merchant Daniel Shoaf helped the Tihei Mauri Ora team out, as did Hastings District councillor Bayden Barber, USO bike riders, students from Te Aute College and St Joseph’s Maori Girls’ College, and many other whānau.
“Bridge Pa owner/operator Nukunoa Hapi brought his wood splitter to assist and made a significant difference, saving hours of backbreaking labour for our team,” Mr Heke said.
More than 50 Hawke’s Bay whānau have received firewood, “with a list still in hand to be allocated”.
Mr Heke said the wood had been gratefully received by whānau. “The Te Aute College students who delivered their first trailer of wood to a kaumātua whānau in Flaxmere were humbled by the difference the wood delivery made to the whānau.”
Mr Heke said Tihei Mauri Ora would gratefully receive further firewood donations to be passed on to vulnerable whānau. Anyone able to donate can contact 0800 211 024.
This week [June 21 to 27] is National Volunteer Week, honouring the collective energies and mana of volunteers in Aotearoa. This year’s theme is ‘Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi - The benefit of working together’.